GenHO 1 Year Anniversary: “What Got You Into Cars?” – Cameron Tunstall, Editor-in-Chief

This picture could really say it all for me. It’s Easter, 1994. My brother and I have just gotten a brand-new Sega Genesis Model 2 to replace our Nintendo Entertainment System that was destroyed by the family dog. Before we left to buy our first cartridge for it, we took this photo out in front of our home. This is in Maryvale, a suburb of Phoenix, and a rough one at that.

We were the family with the giant four-wheel-drive pick up in the front yard.

My younger brother riding the 3-wheel ATC out in front of our house in Maryvale. So classy.

My introduction to cars began, in fact, with my father’s introduction to them. Being of driving age in the late 70’s, and being from the big/little town of Phoenix, it was a mixture of hot rod and biker culture. At the age of 14, my dad got his first motorcycle: A 1957 Panhead. I believe that it was at this point – 9 years before I was born – That I was destined to be drawn to motor-powered vehicles.

My dad: A teenage bad-ass.

Soon after that, he was wrapped up in all kinds of automobiles. Who am I kidding though, every one was! Your average douche bag was out trying to get laid in his brand new, pathetic performing, anemic Fire-chicken. The muscle cars of the 60’s were now nearly a decade old. If you were a real gear head, you had some kind of used Detroit product that you were trying to shove the meanest engine you could find into. As I’ve said before, “This is hotrodding 101.”

Let’s now fast forward more than a decade, back to the beginning of this story. Confused yet? I’m talking about the 1990’s again. My dad graduates the local United Technical Institute, and starts a successful roofing company. His overhead is diminished by running vintage bobtails that he maintains and repairs.

As you can see, there’s not one truck that isn’t at least 10 years old when this picture was taken. One is ancient even by the standards of 20 years ago.

Kick-starting my love for 60-66 Chevy trucks at an industrial scale.

I spent every single burning-hot Phoenix summer just south of 35th avenue and Indian School road which is where these above pictures were taken. I still get my tires from the Llanteria just north of there. A friend of my dad’s would come by sometimes in his 1972 Chevelle and my dad would race him in his S-10 on the back roads by the canal. A lot of fun was had, and there was always a small block out on a stand. I cut my teeth on Chevy V8’s in 2-ton commercial vehicles. This may be why I associate most Chevy V8’s as engines for work vehicles and not performance mills.

Showing off the scissor-bed capabilities of one of the dump trucks. I am in the top right, my dad is hanging off the bed, below me.

Before I hit my teens, my dad got back into bikes in a big way. This is pre-Jesse James/ Orange County Choppers bullshit. Because of this, I was exposed to 50’s and 60’s American motorcycles while my dad continued to do his hotrodding. He created things like a Chevy-powered Ford Courier with a modified 60-66 rear suspension for off-road racing, a restoration on a 1965 Buick Riviera that had been in a head-on collision, and bringing a GMT 400 with a rear Z-frame fitted with hydraulics (this was the 90’s, remember?) back to stock. I didn’t know it then, but now I realize that I really took for granted that my dad was a fabricator (before it was a buzzword used by the auto media). If he didn’t have what he needed, he made it. No internet or any of that bullshit. Just plain old skill, ingenuity and determination.

There was at any given time, three or so disassembled pre-Evo Harleys laying around the shop. This one happens to be my Dad’s 57 Panhead that you saw 14-year old him riding on, in this picture it’s now approximately 20 years later. The tanks lay in the background being ready to be painted.

If can’t read between the lines, I guess you’ve found yourself asking: Where do his dad’s accomplishments tie in to who he is? For a great example, let’s look at my featured project here on GenHO. One that he’s helped piece together every step of the way:

My 1965 Chevy C-10 (The Futuramic Farm Truck) was a birthday present from him – for me – on my 18th birthday. It sits behind me as I write this, somewhat changed from the stripped-out, “smogger” 350-powered hoopty it was. A massive 455-cubic inch Oldsmobile v8 lays next to it, half disassembled. My dad was there when we pulled the 350 Chevy that was originally in it, and rode with me to trade for the 455. The interior’s bench seat and chrome came courtesy of a couple of my dad’s dump trucks that were sitting around for parts. It wears a GMC stepside bed on it’s ass end like it couldn’t care less that the back matches the front. My dad was there to help me swap it, (along with fellow editors Mike and Trevor). Four aluminum slicers sit in the bed – my dad got them from a yard sale for $10 a piece.

Let me make this clear though: It’s not a one-way street. We trade parts for things, and help work on each others vehicles. I can’t count how many times I’ve moved his Jay-Leno-esque stock pile of hot rod parts as a favor. For every “Pull the 350 out a project truck” there’s been a “Pull a 350 out of a dump truck to swap so the other one can get back to work tomorrow.” I always send all my pre-roller block Chevy parts his way. He’d use them way before me. I’m the Olds guy, he’s a diehard Chevrolet fanatic.

He also has a thing for vintage Harleys that I can’t seem to fully get into at this point.

So is it that hard to see how I became obsessed with cars? I celebrate the fact that I wouldn’t have half as interesting a life if it wasn’t for his budding interest early on. Know this: We’re not from a long line of car guys, I’m only second-generation grease monkey.

So, here we are. As one year passes for Generation: High Output and I near the ninth year of plugging away slowly on this old 60’s pick-up, I’m happy to have shared year number eight – the most exciting and productive year – with all of you. It’s been a great year that’s given us SEMA, Barrett-Jackson and many interesting nights full of cars at the Scottsdale Pavilions. I’ve also got to meet some very cool people because of this website: Industry peers and car fanatics alike. I never thought that I’d get to talk with Stacey David or stand a couple feet from Jay Leno as he got a pre-war Fiat running, or even accidentally pull a “Karl Malone” on Mr. Money-Machine-Barris himself.

I appreciate all of you out there reading this and supporting us, you made it happen. But most importantly:

Thanks dad!